Thurman Merman would approve

Growing up in San Diego, my mom would buy these fruit bars from a local establishment called Dudley’s Bakery.  Chewy, dense and studded with raisins, these bars were the perfect pre-swim workout snacks.  Over the years I’ve made several failed attempts at cracking the recipe code for these not-quite-cookie bars.  I could never get the texture quite right.  They were either too dry and crumbly or too chewy–like over-developed gluten.

To be honest, after my last swing-and-a-miss I’d purposefully put the damn things out of my mind.

Until a couple of weeks ago when I ran across a picture on Pintrest that looked like a “close-enough” match to merit the purchase of a bag of raisins.

Thanks to a blog called The Lemon Bowl.

Contrary to what people seem to think, I don’t generally eat a whole lot of what I bake.  For me, baking is about making, not eating.  It’s a hobby, like quilting or glassblowing or that weird thing they call cosplay that I don’t really understand.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit, these bars were the exception.  They’re really good.  Wholesome, satisfying, and for me, nostalgic, the magic in these bars is enough to help me not only overcome my distaste for raisins in baked goods, but

They are properly called hermit bars.  But, in my head, they’re Thurman Merman bars. Should I fix some sandwiches?

Hermit Bars

adapted from The Lemon Bowl


  • 4 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 C packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 C butter (16 TBS) unsalted butter at room temp
  • 2/3 C dark molasses
  • 2 large eggs at room temp
  • 2 C raisins or other dried fruit


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a jelly pan with parchment (standard half-sheet, 12X17) with parchment.  If you want to use a 9X13 pan, you’ll just have significantly thicker bars.  Grease and then flour the parchment and sides.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, all of the spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter for 2 minutes.
  4. Add-in brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy, 3 more minutes.
  5. Mix in eggs one-at-a-time.
  6. Reduce speed and drizzle-in molasses.  Mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  7. With mixer on lowest speed, slowly incorporate dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.
  8. Pull bowl from paddle and mix in raisins/dried fruit by hand.
  9. Using an offset  spatula (or floured fingers if you are brave), dump dough into prepared pan and carefully distribute until you have an even layer.
  10. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes up clean.
  11. Allow to cool completely before cutting.
  12. These will store well for up to a week in an airtight container.

Consider this the gateway hack

I’ve been working on updating our master bedroom for a couple of years now.

It started with bedding.  Then we took the plunge and bought a real dresser.  While nary a scrap of my own clothing is organized within its deep and generous drawers, I love this dresser.    I’ve long admired the mid-century modern influence; even before Jon Hamm became its ultimate accessory.  And while this dresser’s clean lines are a clear nod to the movement, the natural finish and walnut grain make it feel smart and casual.  When we bought the long dresser, we also considered purchasing its three-drawer younger brother.  Alas, I didn’t have any organs to sell that weren’t being used at the time, so we waited.

Until I needed a project.  While researching the hardware for my little necklace display project, I wandered through the dresser section of Ikea’s online site.

And found the unfinished Tarva.  My goal was to find something I could stain to go with the long dresser while keeping the budget low.  At about $80, this baby had potential.

The morning went we to pick this guy up I had TD set the stopwatch on his phone.  We were in and out of Ikea in 23 minutes.  And that included a trip to every floor to pick up some other odds and ends.    Of course it took me another 2 1/2 hours to build the dresser–which was fine with me since I happen to love building Ikea furniture.  No really, give me a box of wood…or wood-like parts, an alan wrench and one of those graphic novels they call instruction booklets and I’m pretty much in heaven.

It had been about 20 years since I stained my last piece of furniture, so I did quite a bit of research in advance.  I used Centsational Girl’s tutorial on the X base table they built from scratch (ridiculous!) and her tutorial on refinishing this table as my template.   Because the wood on the dresser was unfinished, I lightly sanded, wiped-down and then applied a wood conditioner.  This was followed by two super thin coats of Minwax wood stain in special walnut.  My goal was to enhance the grain rather than hide it.  I finished the staining with two coats of clear wood finish (sanding lightly in between).  I wanted a natural finish but some protection from wear and tear, so just a couple of coats was the trick.  Finally, I swapped-out the wooden knobs for some stainless knobs similar to the ones on the long dresser.

In the top drawer I laid down some anti-slip liner and filled it with night-stand type stuff.  You know, lip balm, hair bands, extra furry mice for the Kitchen Gods.  I also threaded the cord of a charger through the back and now have a hidden charging area for my ipad and phone.  The rest of the dresser is filled with TDs stuff.  This is in addition to the giant dresser, his custom closet, the storage bench at the end of the bed and a couple of shelves in my closet.  The dude may have a problem.

While this addition isn’t a perfect match to the Room and Board dresser, it wasn’t meant to be.  I like a room that feels like it belongs together but doesn’t match exactly.

And now that I’ve broken the seal with our orbital sander attachment and the wood stain, I have at last two more projects in the works for the near future.

Right after we have the bedroom painted.

And the carpet replaced.

And the gallery wall installed…